Barry Illsely was invited to meet the manager at the Senior Training Centre, but was unaware of the surprise in store, which had been specially arranged to celebrate his 50 years of commentary at Ewood Park for Radio Hospitals Blackburn.
Barry said: “It was a complete surprise and I was absolutely delighted about it. It was great that Gary took time out to speak to me and I must give a special mention to the two people, Stuart Wearden (RHB sports commentator) and Rob Gill (Rovers’ press officer), who went behind my back to arrange the surprise!
“I was sat in the manager’s office and Terry McPhillips asked me who the best centre-half was that I’d seen play for Rovers and then next thing, Colin Hendry and Craig Short walked in! It was great to meet a couple of former players. I’m very grateful and I really enjoyed it.”
The manager added: “It was the least we could do for someone who has spent 50 years dedicating his life to following Blackburn Rovers and commentating on the radio. We’re delighted that we could play our part in the surprise, because it’s important that you reward people that have given so much to others and Barry’s certainly one of those people.
“He’s a good bloke. I’ve met him several times and he offers me some good advice and his opinion on the game! So it was good that he could come down and spend the day with us.”
Caption: Stuart Wearden (RHB sports commentator), Barry Illsley, Gary Bowyer and David Peacock (RHB chairman).